Former first lady Michelle Obama tweeted saying she is proud of US gymnast Simone Biles after the athlete dropped out of the women’s team final in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics citing mental health-related concerns.
“We are proud of you and we are rooting for you,” wrote Ms Obama in support of the entire US gymnastics team for their performance after Biles, who is considered one of the best gymnasts of all time, pulled out.
“Am I good enough? Yes, I am. The mantra I practice daily,” Ms Obama said in her tweet.
The former first lady is one of the many voices raised in support of Biles, as several other athletes and prominent personalities also spoke up after her dramatic exit. Biles, a four-time Olympic champion and a 19-time world champion, pulled out of the remaining Olympic competitions after her disappointing performance and a reported injury on the vault.
She misjudged her landing on the vault - an event she has so often dominated - and a score of 13.766 was the worst in the opening rotation. The 24-year-old left the floor shortly afterwards with the US team’s medical trainer. When she returned a few minutes later, her right leg was wrapped and she took off her bar grips and hugged teammates before putting on a tracksuit.
The world-renowned gymnast later revealed that she did not feel mentally right for the competition, stating that she has to focus on her “mental health and not jeopardise my health and well-being.”
“It just sucks that it happened at the Olympic Games,” Biles told US media. She added: “Because at the end of the day, we’re human too so we have to protect our mind and our body rather than just go out there and do what the world wants us to do... there is more to life than gymnastics.”
Aly Raisman, a former US gymnast who won three Olympic gold medals, said on the TODAY show that she felt “sick to her stomach” about Ms Biles’ exit.
“I think that Simone is the biggest story going into the Olympics, so this is just, it’s really, really devastating,” she said. “But I think it’s also just really important to think about how much pressure has been on her, and there’s only so much that someone can take.”
“She’s human, and I think sometimes people forget that. And Simone, just like everyone else, is doing the best that she can,” Raisman said.
Former Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon also backed her saying: “I can’t imagine the pressure Simone has been feeling. Sending her SO much love. It easy to forget she’s still human. WE LOVE YOU.”
Apart from Ms Obama, Utah Senator Mitt Romney also tweeted, “I love and admire Simone Biles and our Olympians.”
“I take pride in them, not so much for the medals they win as for the grace, humanity & character of their hearts,” he added.
Biles, in the past, has spoken of her admiration for Ms Obama, hailing her as a role model. Ms Obama has also been a vocal supporter of the gymnast.
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